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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Study: It's not easy being a PK

Most Protestant clergy believe there is “extra pressure” being a minister’s spouse or pastor’s kid, according to a study by Ellison Research.

Of the 870 ministers surveyed nationwide, 88 percent agreed that churchgoers often expect pastors’ families to be “better than” other people’s. Southern Baptist and Pentecostal clergy felt this kind of pressure the most. Lutheran and Presbyterian pastors, on the other hand, were less likely to perceive strong pressures on their families compared to those from other denominations.

The research, published in Facts & Trends magazine (July/August), also revealed that 60 percent of respondents said their role as pastor leaves them with “insufficient time” for family, with United Methodists most likely to have this concern.

“ELCA pastors and rostered lay leaders work very hard at maintaining a healthy balance between family life and church work,” said Stanley Olson, executive director of ELCA Vocation and Education. “They feel the tension constantly and would enjoy more family time, but I am convinced most are maintaining a good balance and their families are healthy.

Researchers found evangelical pastors are more likely than mainline clergy to call their relationship with their families “extremely healthy.” Pentecostals are more likely to feel their relationships with their children are “extremely healthy.” Lutherans are among the least likely to feel this way.

The research also showed that Protestant ministers see their family unit as relatively healthy, while having “significant worries” about the health of other pastors’ families in their denomination, with United Methodists and Southern Baptists having the most concern.

While pastors had concerns about their home life, the majority felt “strongly confident” that if they had a crisis in their family, they would receive the necessary support they need from their church.


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